Here we invite Zimbabweans and all concerned friends of Zimbabwe to post their view directly! THE QUESTION IS... "WHAT, IN YOUR VIEW IS THE WAY FORWARD IN ZIMBABWE??????".....POST IDEAS TO mufarostig@gmail.com. THANK YOU!!!

LIONEL RITCHIE!!!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"THE ZIMBABWE I DON'T WANT!" DANIEL MOLOKELA!


The Zimbabwe I don't want
 
 

By Daniel Fortune Molokele

Last updated: 05/29/2007 12:50:09

I HAD an unplanned visit to Zimmbabwe recently.
 
I was forced by circumstances to go to Harare and sort out some problematic issues pertaining to my legal status in South Africa.
In the end, I had to apply for a new visitors' visa altogether, and the rather lengthy process ended up lasting up to fifteen days.

The circumstances in which I had to leave Zimbabwe in January 2004 are a well documented fact that I have also highlighted in my previous articles.
Ever since I left Zimbabwe for South Africa, I had only managed to visit my motherland on three occasions. So this was my fourth visit. But what made this visit more special was the unique fact that it was much longer than all my other previous visits.

It was the first time that I had an opportunity to really return to Zimbabwe and have a better feel of what it is now like not to be part of the ever growing Diaspora community. But after having spent fourteen consecutive nights in Harare, I must say that I was left with a very bitter taste in my mouth.
What I saw is definitely not the Zimbabwe that I want to be identified with. The Zimbabwe that I saw is certainly far below my minimum hopes and expectations of how things should be in the land of my womb.

To say that the country has gone to the dogs is most certainly a huge understatement. Someone actually suggested to me the other day that it is actually more appropriate to say that the country has now gone to the zhing-zhongs, reference to the growing Chinese community seelling cheap wares all around Harare!

Zimbabwe is a country that has immense potential. Yet as I discovered during my visit, it is now a country that has completely lost direction. It has become a country with no master plan, with no vision and most disheartening of all, with no minimum standards of excellence at all.

This is a country that shuns excellence, and embraces any form of underachievement. This is one country where mediocrity is celebrated day in and day out.
I was so disgusted to see ZTV, the only national television channel in the entire country, give at least five minutes of prime time television news to one Joseph Chinotimba. The man was supposedly speaking on behalf of all the Zimbabwean workers in his capacity as the Vice President of the so-called Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions. Yet it is common cause that the legitimate representative body for all the remaining few workers in the country is the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

It was so sad to note that while the news bulletin afforded Chinoz, as he is called here, ample time to waffle about Workers' Day celebrations, the ZCTU was not given even a second to air their own planned programme for the same day. Under normal circumstances, Chinoz should not be even allowed near the television cameras at all. He is a glorified former municipal security officer whose only claim to fame is that he led some of those violent farm invasions a few years ago, the same farm invasions that have brought untold hunger and food shortages to many workers and their families in Zimbabwe today!

I also had an opportunity to spend an afternoon at the University of Zimbabwe campus. It was at this very same college that I joined student activism. Between 1995 and 1999, I was a law student there who also got elected into all the three highest offices of the students' union leadership. The UZ I saw is a pale shadow of its former great self.

In particular, the once proud and revolutionary students' union building is now no more. Not to mention the symbolic October 4 bar! The students' union no longer has an administrative building it can call its own any more. The truth is that without a strong culture of student activism, the UZ is now just a glorified high school. They might just as well introduce a prefectorial system to officially represent the broader students' body interest. How have the mighty fallen!

Yet the saddest thing about it all is that no-one in the high offices seems to take care of the rapid decline of standards in most of the country's public systems. The national leadership seems to be so engrossed in the desperate struggle for political survival; so much that they are now more than prepared to sacrifice the greater national interest on the alter of political self-aggrandizement. In the meantime, the nation continues to suffer rapid degradation and stagnation.

I also had an opportunity to visit the Westgate Shopping Mall on a Saturday. What I saw there really broke my heart. The place that used to be a thriving social hive now lies forlorn and deserted. The shops are still there but the customers are no more. Many have left the country. While those who remain simply cannot afford to pay for most of the things that are on offer.
Most restaurants were empty; the movie houses were also virtually empty. In fact the busiest shop was TM supermarket. Otherwise the rest of the mall was deserted. I really felt sad! This is so especially if I compare with what I always witness when I visit any mall here in South Africa. At any time of the week or month, there is always lots of life and vibe.

As for the topical issues in the political discourse of the country, things have become even more depressing. One cannot help develop the feeling that there is a now lot of political sterility and stagnation in the country. The politics of personalities and survival has become the order of the day. It is so hard to be both a visionary and a politician in Zimbabwe today. The biggest culprit is no doubt Robert Mugabe himself.
It was so nauseating to see him continue to convince himself that he is still a relevant asset to our country. I still don't understand why he cannot see that he has long gone past by his sell-by date. What is even more depressing is that while Tony Blair and George Bush are preparing to leave public office, the man is preparing to launch another presidential election campaign!

Admittedly, there are still some genuine leaders from various facets of the pro-democracy movement that is still burning the flames of the struggle at home.
There are a lot of brave men and women that are still facing the brunt of the dictatorship at the political battlefront. Some have been brutalised, detained or even murdered in the name of the struggle for a new Zimbabwe. We need to always do our best to appreciate their efforts, in spite of the obvious counter attacks from the desperate regime.

But one thing I felt as I walked on the UZ campus grounds and also the other day when I was outside the national Parliament building, is that somehow, Zimbabweans now living in the Diaspora have a greater responsibility to the country than ever before. The truth is that the country now needs you, more than ever before.

Wherever you are, please do not give up on the dream for a better and new Zimbabwe. Wherever you are, stand up and be counted among those who are actively campaigning for a new democratic Zimbabwe.

Do not keep quiet anymore. Let your silence come to an end now. Join the growing movement fighting in various ways to keep Zimbabwe high on both the African and broader global agenda. Speak out and tell whoever listens to you that Zimbabwe under Mugabe is definitely not the Zimbabwe you want! Another new Zimbabwe is possible. It starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with both of us. United. Together. Today. Don't wait for tomorow bercause it might never come!

Daniel Molokele is a Zimbabwean Human Rights Lawyer who is based in Johannesburg. He can be contacted at zimvn@danielmolokele.com
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